Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 18, 2022, 7:45

The term secular essentially means being separate from religion, and secularism means separation of religion from all other aspects of life pertaining to the political, economic, social, and cultural domain. Religion, in secularism, is treated as wholly a matter of personal choice. It thrives on the concept of total freedom and tolerance of all religions and disassociation of state from religion. Equal opportunities for the followers of all religions without any discrimination is what secularism stands for. Keep reading for detailed Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism.

Major Key Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism

Let's understand the Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism in some depth -

Western Secularism

Indian Secularism

In the West, the primary separation between political and religious authority was marked as the process of secularization, with religion becoming a matter of personal choice rather than being an obligation.

In the Indian concept of secularism, this distinct separation of the state from religious matters is missing.

In Western secularism, the line between the state and religion is very well defined and obvious.Here lies the Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism in the sense that there is no clear demarcation between state and religion in India
Another point of Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism is that in Western secularism, all religious institutions and organizations are outside the operation of the state.But in Indian secularism, the state is neutral to all the different religious groups but is not distinct. There is no wall of separation between state and religion in India. Rather, both state and religion are often seen to intervene in each other's affairs within the parameters as legally and judicially decided.
Secularism in the West is opposed to the open display of religion other than the places of worship.

Indian Government, on the other hand, is tolerant of all and any forms of religion and its display.

In the West, the state cannot engage in any kind of financial assistance to educational institutions that religious groups manage.

But, In India, the state not only provides the right to such religious communities to establish and maintain their educational institutions but also provides them with financial assistance.

As per the Western concept of secularism, religion is treated as a private matter and has no place in public life. There are no public policies related to religion, thereby completely distancing the state from citizens' religiously driven activities and practices.

But, this is not true in the case of Indian secularism. The state is very much involved in religious activities, as can be seen from the setting up of religious-driven departments like the Department of Religious Endowments and the Waqf Board.

In the Western model, a single uniform code of law is used to pass judgment on all religious matters.

This is strikingly different in the case of Indian secularism. There is no uniform code of law. Even India's personal laws on the matter of marriage, divorce, inheritance, and alimony are decided by an individual's religion.

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Indian secularism is related to the philosophy of Sarva Dharma Sambhava, which means equal respect for all religions. The term secular was incorporated in the Preamble of the Indian constitution via the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act 1976. It helps to establish India as a secular country.

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FAQs on the Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism

Q.1 What is the Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism?

The Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism is that in Western secularism, there is a distinct separation of the church and state, but in Indian secularism, there is no specific boundary between state and religion.

Q.2 What is the primary basis of the Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism?

The primary basis of the Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism is that Indian secularism differs in its scope from the concept of Western secularism. In the Western model, the state has no role in the personal religious matters of citizens and is neutral to all religions. But in Indian secularism, the state can always have a say in matters pertaining to religious issues and is also known to make arrangements for them.

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Q.3 How evident is the Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism?

The Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism is quite evident, as the secularism that is practised in India is fundamentally different from what is practised in the West.

Q.4 What is the Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism in terms of the law?

The Difference between Indian Secularism and Western Secularism in terms of the law is that in the Western model, a single uniform code of law is used to pass judgment on all religious matters. There is no uniform code of law in Indian secularism. Even India's personal laws on the matter of marriage, divorce, inheritance, and alimony are decided by an individual's religion.